US citizen's family sues Iran over bombing of Kurdish groups in Iraq
The family of an American citizen has filed a lawsuit against the Iranian government, accusing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of "extrajudicially killing" their relative in a strike in neighbouring Iraq.
The lawsuit was filed by the wife and daughter of Omer Mahmoudzadeh, who was killed in a strike inside Iraq's Kurdistan region last September. They are seeking a total amount of $300m in damages.
The case was filed on the basis of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which gives American nationals the ability to pursue legal cases against foreign governments that are on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Iran has been on the list since 1984.
"Omer Mahmoudzadeh’s suffering and death was intended as a result by Iran and indeed confirmed by the IRGC," reads the lawsuit, first reported by Al-Monitor.
"This case is the latest act of terror by the Iranian regime bringing to light the cross-border operations by Iran against human rights activists, like Mr. Omer Mahmoudzadeh."
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On 28 September, Iran’s IRGC bombed Iranian-Kurdish targets inside Iraq's Kurdistan region with missiles and drones, killing at least nine people.
A source in the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) told Middle East Eye at the time of the strike that Mahmoudzadeh, a 59-year-old US citizen, was among those killed. The source said Mahmoudzadeh was helping refugees in camps near the KDP-I headquarters in Erbil province.
The US State Department also confirmed that a US citizen was killed in the strike at the time, but did not provide further details.
A spokesperson for the Iranian mission to the United Nations told MEE: "We have no information about whether any US citizens were killed."
"That terrorists' headquarter were targeted in a precise attack," the spokesperson added, referencing the strike in September. "If a US citizen was among them, then it's the US government's responsibility to explain why a US citizen was at the terrorists' headquarter."
The strikes in Iraq came amid continued protests in Iran over the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, at the hands of Iran’s "morality police" in Tehran in mid-September.
Tehran blamed armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents for involvement in the ongoing civil unrest, particularly in the northwest where most of the country's more than 10 million Kurds live.
There have been several lawsuits filed in the US against Tehran in which damages were awarded by American courts. In 2019, a federal court ordered Iran to pay nearly $180m in damages over the detention of Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian.
In 2022, a federal judge awarded $455m in damages in a lawsuit filed against Iran on behalf of US service members and civilians wounded or killed in Iraq.
However, despite winning these cases, obtaining full compensation is difficult. A Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund has been set up by Washington, but this fund accounts for US victims of all attacks, including the 9/11 attacks.
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